By Doug Porter
In case you missed the news, Bob Filner’s days as Mayor will be coming to a close this week. The City Council went into closed session, voted to accept a deal worked out in mediation, played cards for 75 minutes, and came back to announce the results.
The soon-to-be ex-Mayor came to the front of the room and gave a rambling speech on Friday.
The announced date for the resignation to take effect is Friday, August 30th. By postponing the inevitable a week into the future, the schedule for future special election(s) was moved up in a manner more favorable to a higher voter turnout. This could turn out to be one small last gift to the people of San Diego from hizzoner.
Today’s UT-San Diego hails City Attorney Jan Goldsmith as one of the four citizens who ‘saved’ the city. While making his victory laps around town this morning, Goldsmith appeared on NBC7/39, telling us about how it’d been 8 months of tough work…
Wait? Does that mean his “investigation” started before the scandal? I’m sure it was just a mental slip up. Right?
Now that the Most.Horrible.Era.In.San.
From down-low in the flood plains of Mission Valley, Doug Manchester’s minions are leading the charge, starting out with editorial advocacy of a road map for what the future must hold in order for America’s Finest City to redeem itself:
According to the UT, we need to:
- Get back to the business of screwing government employees. Around here we call that ‘managed competition’, a process where city employees are encouraged to participate in the elimination of city services via the threat of privatization.
- Get’er done with the Convention Center Expansion. Nothing says good government like a shiny new building built on a sinking waterfront to meet the demands of a shrinking industry.
- Build a paid parking garage in Balboa Park. A local rich guy with a legacy complex wants it. They want his money for lots of other projects and it fits in nicely with plans to convert much of the rest of the parking in the area to paid.
- Build a new Charger stadium. Yes, we need less pothole filling and more luxury boxes so we can watch over-rated quarterbacks throw interceptions. Ugh.
On Sunday we were treated to a three part explanation in the newspaper of how it will be now that he who must not be named is gone.
First up we had former Mayor Jerry Sanders, now speaking from his soap box over at the Chamber of Commerce:
The turmoil of Mayor Filner’s administration has beleaguered our city long enough, and will only continue to weigh us down if we let it. Our next mayor needs to demonstrate strong leadership that unites us, reinforces our collaborative spirit and moves us in only one direction: forward. We have many important projects ahead of us, such as the Convention Center expansion, Plaza de Panama, 2015 Centennial Celebration, and issues — including infrastructure, managed competition, restoring fiscal responsibility and growing our innovative business environment — that will significantly impact the future of San Diego. The chamber, and the regional business community, is committed to working with our next mayor to address these issues and many others. It is only when we begin working toward the future that we can let the damage from past events subside.
Next up the UT presented the thoughts of Malin Burnham, representing a viewpoint favored among the town’s ultra-monied crowd:
In addition to a new football stadium, filling a few potholes with trickle-down dollars and a new city hall, he wants:
- Competitive bidding regarding outsourcing various city services
- Re-establish, in some new form, our past highly successful redevelopment process
- Build additional parking within Balboa Park that could help anchor a transportation parking district along Park Avenue from the zoo to the bay
- Build a stronger coalition among our state and federal elected officials to gain a stronger voice in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
- Relieve traffic congestion in the greater downtown area by building grade separations between streets and railroad tracks
Note that the “highly successful redevelopment process” in San Diego has come at the expense of virtually every community south of Interstate 8. And now that Gov. Brown has put the kibosh on those scams, additional monies are flowing from the property tax rolls to our schools.
Finally, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who was a pivotal force in the last election, adds her perspective:
Whoever may become our new mayor must continue to pursue an inclusive agenda that empowers people and neighborhoods to better their lives. We don’t need more charity from otherwise low-road employers. We need good jobs with wages that support families.
We need a mayor who will work with our school districts to improve K-12 education for the entire city, rather than pick ideological fights with our school boards. We need someone committed to increasing public safety staffing levels — not to put more of our kids in jail or deport our residents, but to return to community policing and to provide neighborhoods with appropriate emergency response times.
We need leadership at City Hall that corrects the inequities in neighborhoods where city streets exist without sidewalks or adequate lighting. We need more trees and a true commitment to water reliability and renewable energy for our region.
For San Diegans who subscribe to this vision, the challenge is ours. The same players who have dismissed our progressive solutions in the past are counting on our coalition to forego our right to vote for the next mayor because special elections are traditionally low-turnout affairs. We must prove them wrong. Our long-term goal of a sustainable San Diego will only be achieved if we ramp up the engagement of our communities early, organize around the issues important to us, and mobilize to once again empower ourselves by voting for the candidate committed to rebuilding our middle class.
If you haven’t heard, her man-with-a plan-for moving this agenda forward is Nathan Fletcher. Lots of the same folks that worked hard in the fall 2012 election, notably organized labor, are having a hard time finding credibility in that idea.
The history of special elections generally favors more conservative candidates. And the time frame will favor those with ready access to cash. As Liam Dillon at Voice of San Diego put it:
The speed of the election will benefit candidates who can raise money quickly and get major institutions like the local political parties, labor unions and GOP-friendly Lincoln Club on board early.
“I think the serious candidates will have raised $100,000 in the first week,” said Democratic political consultant Jennifer Tierney…
…In the last five citywide elections, a rule has emerged. If you’re a Republican, you can get anything you want (City Council candidates, killing a sales tax hike, pension reform), except in a presidential general election.
What the Future Holds
Frankly I don’t see a candidate with a realistic chance of winning who will make serving the disenfranchised and under privileged residents of our fine city a priority. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, however.
Here’s a five point plan for holding politicians hands to the fire in the upcoming period, one that will guide my viewpoint in the coming months:
- Keep a close eye on the City Council. They have the most short term potential to derail the progressive policy decisions that emerged during the Filner administration. Watch for a move by the city’s hoteliers to reassert their claim on the 2% “fee” for marketing currently tied up by their refusal to protect taxpayers from liability in pending court cases.
- Keep an even closer eye on Jan Goldsmith. He’s the key to the highway for the local ‘business as usual’ folks. If his toupee blows off, we’ll have photos.
- Thoroughly vet any and all candidates for Mayor. We started today with Nathan Fletcher, using his own words, via a devastating takedown by Jim Miller. Anybody else who declares for the job can expect the same level of scrutiny.
- Follow the money. For those of you who’ve bought into the narrative about elections representing the will of the people, I’ve got a shocker for you: they’re often about conflicts in the moneyed class. We’ll be taking a close look at who gives what and trying to make sense of what vision for San Diego it’s tied to.
- Keep our neighborhoods in the forefront. The antidote to trickledown economics and downtown centric economic development is supporting and organizing within the dozens of communities in San Diego. To that end I’ll be keeping close tabs on the candidates. I’m even thinking about running a scorecard documenting the number of times a candidate actually sets foot in a non-wealthy neighborhood.
Finally, did anybody see any mention anywhere in all this talk about San Diego’s future about building an infrastructure that acknowledges the realities of global warming? If I was a bicycle enthusiast or depended on public transportation in this town, I’d be very concerned.
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrán, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: email@example.com
On This Day: 1920 – The 19th amendment to the Constitution went into effect. The amendment prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in the voting booth. 1967 – Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” was released. 1973 – A Presidential Proclamation declared August 26th Women’s Equality Day.
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Go for the score card!
bob dorn says
The strangest thing, post-Filner, is that there is no progressive name being mentioned for a run for the office. Who’s out there?
steven greenwald says
steve greenwald 4 a progressive independent mayor question 6193007229
Got to figure the D and R game plan. What happens to the council makeup if one of the current occupants gets the win/ Does his/her council seat change the make up? if a council contender looses, does he/she keep his/her council seat?
Big picture view.
This mayor is in till 2016?
steven greenwald says
a winner would give up their seat a loser keeps their seat steve greenwald 4 san diego mayor you tube steven greenwald asa questions 6193007229
Call me confused Doug but could you POSSIBLY explain to me why a progressive view is NOT to have paid parking in the “core” of Balboa Park? For one thing a big chunk of it would be paid by tourists. One could also keep the lots at Inspiration Point/Vet Memorial free which would serve a decent chunk of the passive open space (world beat center area, playground, gym-recreation center). Channel the funds toward deferred maintenance at the Park and, presto, we actually have a funding source.
Now that doesn’t mean that the parking garage is a good idea. But it is to say that “free” parking at Balboa park is actually a bad thing if you really do love the park and, in particular, I don’t for the life of me see how defending it is a progressive position.
Doug Porter says
Why do you care about a progressive argument in the first place? In your role at National University it’s not like you exactly spend your days pondering progressive positions.
So I’m gonna call this for what it is: Trolling.
And you can go complain to your right wing buddies about how the SDFP wouldn’t argue with your red herring argument.
PS: One of the dozens of stories we ran about Balboa Park, FYI: http://sandiegofreepress.org/2012/07/balboa-park-project-appears-to-be-illegal-places-parks-national-historic-landmark-status-in-jeopardy/
The bridge is a different issue than paid parking.
As you know, the biggest lot in Balboa parks is the zoo and the biggest infrastructure investment is the approved master plan that would mean undergrounding that lot, extending the zoo’s footprint to the east, making the underground lot paid, and then building a “north/south prado” running from the fountain to the merry-go-round. By conflating the “bridge/paid parking” issues SDFP reduces the chances of that ever coming to fruition – because the only way to get rid of the sea of parking for the zoo is to create a revenue stream (i.e. the paid parking) to help offset the 100+ million cost.
Why do I “care” about the progressive agenda? Because I believe that San Diego is not a Manichaen struggle between one side versus the other. There _ARE_ common grounds to find consensus. Separating out the bridge debate versus paid parking seems one of those places.
How about a different tact Doug? Maybe the answer is to reduce the number of parking spaces in the park (while increasing the number of spots for the disabled). In other words, expand public transportation into and within Balboa Park. The the trolley is already close by, it wouldn’t be hard to expand shuttle service. Of course more would be needed than that. Think how much nicer the park would be without all that space devoted to pavement. Certainly Central Park doesn’t have an attendance problem, and I don’t remember ever seeing a large parking lot there.
Andy Cohen says
The trolley is close by? If you define 1.7 miles FROM THE SOUTHERNMOST POINT of Balboa Park as close by, then yes, you’re right. But most people would consider that far too distant and difficult to walk, particularly for families looking to spend a few hours. There are no other trolley stops that are closer.
The Number 7 bus goes directly up Park Blvd. to the east side of the Prado, but even that is far too inconvenient and time consuming for most visitors looking to take public transit. And for a family with small children, they’d likely spend more time in transit than they would in the park itself, so it’s a non-starter.
In short, your assertion is utter and complete nonsense.
Andy: I was thinking the corner of Park and C street. How hard would it be to get a regular shuttle from there, stopping close to Pepper Tree Grove, the Zoo, and, on the way back, the Prado? Of course there would have to be other routes, too.
Doug Porter says
The fact is I watch you all the time on Twitter, picking fights just for the hell of it. You aren’t interested in discourse, and I’m not gonna let you play your game here.
Andy Cohen says
If you actually bothered to read the article linked by Doug, then you’d know that the paid parking projections are wildly optimistic at best, and likely to turn into a major black hole for the city. It was Bruce Coons’ assertion that the creation of paid parking in BP would likely lead to an eventual switch to paid parking throughout the park as a way to simply cover the payments on the structure and encourage visitors to use it. In examining the issue, I think he has a solid point here, whether you agree with his overall assertions on the PdP plan as presented by Irwin Jacobs or not.
The entire PdP plan was a financial disaster just waiting to happen for the City of San Diego, and would unnecessarily drain the general fund of resources that are desperately needed for other purposes. The provision in the proposal as cited by the IBA that a cost overrun of more than 3% would trigger a complete retraction of Jacobs’ private contributions alone make the plan so onerous as to be a complete non-starter.
Extending the zoo footprint to the east was a horrible idea that has a terrible impact on Florida Canyon.
The charge for zoo entry has increased enormously the past couple of years…no need to put in paid parking. Many many residents use the zoo. The same goes for the rejected paid parking structure in Balboa Park: it is utterly ridiculous to state that most of those people parking there are tourists. Many tourists stay downtown or get shuttles and public transportation to the zoo and Balboa Park. We should keep the Park as inexpensive as possible for us, the local taxpayers, to enjoy.
Doug: thanks for calling this guy out on his trolling. Having said that, I’m still compelled to answer his question for some of the slower readers of those who may be new to the world of “thought”.
First, the Paid Parking is not a money maker, its a potential serious money loser, so says the unbiased financial analysts. The deficit would be paid from the budget that pays for the park upkeep, potholes and such.
Second its a gift to corporate parking management firms, most probably to the ACE firm, heavy political contributors. If you don’t believe their influence, ask yourself what business Todd Gloria has supporting the Jacobs project over huge community dislike?
Third, paid parking at one location will lead to paid parking in other locations. Either the Zoo trying to keep their lot from filling up with non-Zoo patrons, or in other “public” lots in the park to force more revenue back to the failing other parking. It woild also lead to a “residents zone” permit system on nearby streets such as Upas and the area near Roosevelt School. Jacobs himself even stumbled once and mentioned additional paid parking lots that were planned, but his associates noted it and he was forced not to mention it again. Once a certain level of paid parking has been accepted, adding additional plaid lots for preferential parking would be so simple. The ultra-rich already have a valet system they can use.
Fourth, just look who is supporting it. People like Malin Burnham, Jerry Sanders, the UT, Roger Hedgecock, and such do not support Progressive causes, and rarely support issues where they or their friends don’t stand a chance of making money.
Why are you opposed to paid parking throughout the park? Again, the cost of it is that we have a sea of asphalt in BP and forgo a revenue stream to pay for park upkeep. If one kept parking “free” at IP, it would serve a bunch of the passive space uses.
Erik: your “Progressive” mask has almost totally stretched out its elastic. Why not fence the whole thing and charge $94 to get in and call it Disneyland? “Paid parking is a de-facto admission charge” that’s what the San Diego Union even said in pre-Manchester days. The reason the revenue stream is not there is because the dedicated TOT money for the Park was syphoned off by Republican mayors for the GOP Convention and other treats and never returned. Filner was the first Mayor to understand the concept that the Park is a public park, and not a trade-association of museums. And people like Gloria, Demaio, and Fletcher would be just happy to put it back that way, because they know that museums and theatres have wealthy boards of directors, and everybody else in the Park is some kind of cleaned-up hobo.
You are absolutely correct. Further, in regard to additional zoo parking, one should consider how unbearable the zoo is when the current lot is full. Do we want any more spaces available, rendering the zoo experience less worth the price of admission because it becomes too crowded? I think not.
De facto admission is right on. Let’s get that tax money where it belongs, to the neighborhoods and parks, and go in the other other direction: make the museums free, as they are in D.C.
Andy Cohen says
Then why not have paid parking throughout the beach areas? As Sherri Lightner noted, paid parking at BP would lead to that eventuality. Maybe rich conservatives like you consider that to be a good idea, but the rest of us most certainly do not. And it would be a boondoggle for tourism in the beach communities and would be opposed by most–if not all–stakeholders.
By the way, Lightner was the lone member of the City Council to vote against the PdP plan, mostly for that very reason. And I don’t know of anyone who would consider her a Progressive or a liberal of any sort.
Erik – why oppose paid parking? I believe it’s called the camel’s nose under the tent – I have a solid understanding of bureaucracies, public and private. There is no such thing as “a portion” “limited”. Once estaplished it will grow. The Zoo parking lot is not considered available for the general public – it’s Zoo parking and I believe the Zoological Society has it under lease. I’d like to take on a couple of what I believe are myths. 1. It’s mainly tourists. No, it’s not. This is our park, most often used by those of us who live here. We already pay a hefty “sunshine” tax. Andy noted that when the optimistic revenues estimates do not materialize the free parking space will be blamed – and changed. 2. Why forego a revenue stream? Is it? The city has paid parking and where do those revenues go? Are they segregated and set aside? The city is well known for their “fund transfers”. Plus off the top the revenue will pay for more debt needed to build a parking structure – to me, for this, mortgaging Balboa Park is not a good idea. The Plan already set the stage with overly optimistic revenue estimates. What if the paid parking revenues fall short of even covering the debt? Then the General Fund’s on the hook. As Andy and others realized months ago, the financial risks were not worth the benefit. The plan was built on a mound of sand. But I agree with you that debating just the issue of paid parking, rather than the entire Jacobs plan, is a worthy discussion. The Zoological Society has struggled with that question off and on for years.
Steve I think the problem with that is that IP, even maxed out, probably can’t take the load of cars that currently use Pan American plaza, the Organ Pav., and the lots by the Fleet. It DEFINITELY can’t take the load currently provided at the Zoo.
To get rid of the surface parking at the park you have to put some of it underground. The only way to do that is to get a revenue stream to pay for it.
Now you Could try to simply remove the lots without replacing them. The problem is that the north park community has usually gone “ape-bleep” over that – worried that people will park there and “walk in”. At least for the zoo patrons that seems a reasonable fear. And simply eliminating the parking south of the prado without dealing with the zoo means that their lot will be swamped throughout the year (and spill over into North park)
Tom Hunter says
Another argument about a crisis in parking at Balboa Park? Not Not Not. I go there all the time, always parking. Why solve shit that isn’t a problem?
PERSONALLY, for me it is that the sea of parking at the Pan America Plaza and the “president’s way” lots (and to a lesser extent behind the organ Pavilion) is just a darn shame that limits what the park could be. Converted to open space, those areas would really enhance the passive uses of the whole “1930’s exposition” part of the park. I get why folks might value free parking over that. I don’t understand why that position could be classified left, right, center, or any other place on an ideological spectrum.
Doug Porter says
Basta! He’s doing exactly what he set out to do, which was to hijack the discussion.
Doug Porter says
See? We’re all talking about parking in Balboa Park, just like the man wanted you to. Erik is the Pres of National University. When he calls Doug Manchester’s minions and wants an op-ed their response is “when and how many words would like to write?”
…He may as well have yelled “Squirrel!”
Balboa Park not the issue right now. Getting to the point where people have some leverage in the upcoming election is.
Tom Hunter: One certainly does wonder why people would invent a problem and then handily offer an expensive solution to the problem.
Kelly Mayhew says
THANK YOU Doug for such a clear overview of where we are right now. It’s important to point out not who the candidates are, but who’s behind them. One of the most salient points you made was this: “For those of you who’ve bought into the narrative about elections representing the will of the people, I’ve got a shocker for you: they’re often about conflicts in the moneyed class.” This hits the nail on the head and encapsulates San Diego’s entire city. There was a comment on Jim Miller’s article today about San Diego “losing its innocence.” Right. As you’ve correctly alluded to here, the city’s history has pretty much always been about MONEY. The money folks on both sides of the aisle are slavering at the opportunities before them. Hopefully the rush to capitalize on our terrible situation here will make some of them trip up so badly they’ll fall on their faces. Sadly, though, I know too much about San Diego’s history to believe we’ll end up with someone who actually cares about our poorest communities, our environment, our public servants, and our park. Getting things “back to normal” just means the elites’ status quo and we all know what that means.
Sara Johnson says
I find it incredibly disappointing when “progressives” are just as rude and obnoxious as the conservatives they enjoy ripping to shreds.
“Yes, we need less pothole filling and more luxury boxes so we can watch over-rated quarterbacks throw interceptions. Ugh.”
While you may not appreciate the value of the Chargers and having an NFL team in San Diego with a facility that’s not crumbling, I do, and so do many other people who aren’t corrupt money grubbing GOP apologists.
It’s people like you who make the idea of financing a new stadium in a responsible way with minimal tax payer impact impossible. You feed into the misconception that a new stadium is bad for the area, an indulgent waste of money. If you had done any actual homework on the realistic stadium solutions you would know it’s not a choice between pothole filling and luxury boxes.
Doug Porter says
First of all, I like football. I don’t like Phillip Rivers, which is where the snark comes from.
Second of all, when I see an actual “realistic stadium solution” I’ll be thrilled to support it, even if it involves some short term tax credits along with a realistic ROI. But history shows that’s not the way it works.
Americans for Prosperity (yes, them!):
A whole site dedicated to debunking stadium myths: http://www.fieldofschemes.com/
And my favorite:
Great links , Doug.
I’m all for a new stadium partially funded by taxpayer dollars if we the taxpayer get to become part owners AND if blackouts are banned locally.
Agreed Tyler, although I think the best ownership model is that of the Packers.
Peter: Possibly, but the NFL prohibits any further use of that model, so that will not happen until such time as the Congress is able to break the monopoly, which will probably not be in our lifetime.
Sara’s first point – here here, a little civility helps the delivery. On the other hand, about the Stadium – a bit of understanding. The current “Jack Murphy” Stadium was viewed as a regional as opposed to a City asset. It was built by a JPA (Joint Powers Authority) of the City and County; the county owned and provided around 22 acres of the land. Eventually major freeways and the trolley were built to serve it. The head of Ace parking once told me that stadium has the best ingress/egress of any stadium with 5 major entrances they can fill the 22,000 or so lot in under 100 minutes. We the people have billions of dollars invested in the infra-structure and urban design for a stadium to be where it is.
Jack Murphy was a multi-use stadium; Aztecs, Chargers and Padres used the stadium nearly a 100 dates a year. A broad public benefit justified public involvement and public risk (financings do involve risk). A Charger only stadium must book Truck pulls and Concerts to use the venue even 20 dates a year. As I understand it, the likely plan is for the Chargers to be the sole long term lease holder. The Chargers and the NFL are a private for profit business. Ask the question, is it appropriate for the public to assume responsibility for the capital expenses of a private business? And, if here, where else might it be ok to subsidize private corporations? As a policy I cannot find reason to justify the City taxpayers to assume responsibility for the cost or development of a new stadium exclusively for the Chargers. But like LA said to the NFL, certainly, we’ll be friendly and help you. The city, along with County help, should help them rebuild at the existing site. We have too much infra-structure invested to just throw it away.
Andy Cohen says
The Aztecs will occupy the stadium as well, along with a future MLS team (which I’m guessing–but only guessing–will likely be Chivas USA, who are flailing miserably in LA and might be interested in the move if/when it becomes viable).
I’ve also written about this numerous times. The new stadium will draw multiple Super Bowls, perhaps a major bowl game that is part of the BCS system (far from guaranteed, though), with a soft retractable roof most certainly NCAA Regionals and Final Fours, and it will be among a dozen or so sites included if the U.S. is able to host the World Cup again.
While you’re right that the city will have to get rather creative in order fill a larger number of dates, it’s not completely unfeasible. The city/county will have to be a partner and investor, and not just a donor, but it can work.
A stadium for many teams, especially a CSU team like the Aztecs, can justify local government involvement as it did to get the current stadium built. From a locals point of view it’s in a great location right now. A new city/county JPA to redevelop that site is possible. Question is, would the Chargers find that acceptable? But can the City and County afford to be an investor without a new revenue source? Other cities have put tax increases on the ballot – some pass, some don’t.
Can money be carved out of existing revenues? The City is way behind on maintenance; where could we cut? If San Diegans won’t support a increase in taxes, the other financing model is Leasehold Revenue Bonds; the bond size is limited to revenue estimates.
If might help the people to know that the stadium is sinking. Well, actually the field, mainly at one end, subsides as much as a foot a year. It’s built on river sediment. While the structure received substantial bedrock support the field did not. A problem a new stadium could fix.
This is a private business. Wouldn’t every business owner just love to have the taxpayers take over paying for rent or heck why not just buy the building for the business so its owner can make more profit? San Franciscans chose to let the Giants build their own stadium downtown if they wanted it so badly and gee, the owner just happened to be able to do it. Then, anyone attending the game doesn’t not feel as though he or she paid twice for the game.
Doug – I am the President of the National University System Institute for Policy Research. We are an affiliated unit of the System and distinct from the University itself. I believe I have chatted twice in my life with Mr. Manchester. One of our latest reports was on the right wing conspiracy topic of how much money San Diegans would spend on going back to school as well as an upcoming report on the number of people working in the Active Sports Industry.
Doug Porter says
Erik–I have watched your work around town. You certainly must have better things to do than come on here and try to draw people off topic. I suggest you go do them. Being a right wing conspirator must be a lot of work and I certainly don’t want to keep you away from your important tasks.
Jamie Edmonds says
Yay, privatization link!!!
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
A great column, read a day late — and a great dialog about trolling to put forward a different agenda from the subject at hand. You go, Doug Porter.